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Old 10-20-2006, 03:41 PM   #1
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Default 2006-2007 PreSeason Top 25 by ESPN

1. Florida (33-6)
The starting five is back from a national championship team.
Forward Joakim Noah could be the preseason national player of the year.
The Gators might have had the best locker room karma of any team in the NCAA Tournament. There's no reason to believe that won't continue in 2006-07.


2. Kansas (25-8)
Brandon Rush didn't sniff the NBA draft and returns with rest of his mates.
Kansas again signed the top prospect late in the spring recruiting period and Darrel Arthur is a potential national freshman of the year.
The first-round loss to Bradley will push this squad maybe harder than any other team.


3. North Carolina (23-8)
Tyler Hansbrough returned to be one of the most efficient scorers in the low post.
The addition of the top freshmen class in the country led by guards Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington and forward Brendan Wright make the Tar Heels one of the most talented teams in the nation.
The so-called role guys who led the surprising Tar Heels to the NCAAs will be even more effective in Year 2.


4. Pittsburgh (25-8)
Aaron Gray returned for his senior season. He'll be the immovable man in the middle for the Panthers.
Sam Young might be the least-publicized elite forward in the country. Remember his name. He is a stud.
The loss of Carl Krauser will hurt, but Ronald Ramon, Antonio Graves, Levance Fields and Keith Benjamin are all savvy enough to be the lead guard.


5. LSU (23-9)
Glen "Big Baby" Davis returned to LSU and skipped the NBA draft.
Four of the five starters return (we're counting Tack Minor as a starter, since he'll be back at guard) and the bench has Final Four experience.
We're going to believe coach John Brady that Magnum Rolle will replace Tyrus Thomas' shot blocking.


6. Georgetown (22-16)
Let's start with big men Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. Tell us a pair of better forwards.
The losses of Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook won't be as dramatic as it seems with a stable recruiting class on board led by Vernon Macklin.
John Thompson III. He's that good a coach. His system works. Look, we're talking about Georgetown again. That's because of JT3.


7. Ohio State (26-6)
Greg Oden. Once he's healthy after wrist surgery, he'll instantly become the best big man in college basketball.
The rest of the recruiting class isn't too shabby, either, with help at the other four positions.
The Buckeyes lost Terrence Dials but return the core of a team that rocked the Big Ten for most of the season. And we'll toss in coach Thad Matta, too, who has that Midas touch of late, whether it's winning games or signing recruits.


8. Arizona (20-13)
Marcus Williams might be the preseason Pac-10 player of the year. There's no question that the Wildcats' staff was more worried Williams would declare than they were about Mustafa Shakur possibly bolting.
Love him or hate him, Shakur still is an experienced point guard. He offers a stable defender and an improving distributor who still has to find his way offensively.
The Cats are adding two big-time studs -- one that was hurt for most of last year in guard Jawann McClellan and freshman forward Chase Budinger. Budinger will give Washington's Spencer Hawes a run for Pac-10 freshman of the year.


9. Wisconsin (19-12)
The Badgers have the top returnee in the Big Ten in Alando Tucker, and are safe up the middle with Brian Butch at center and Kammron Taylor.
Bo Ryan got an extension for good reason: He wins and his system works every year.
Ryan keeps singing the praises of incoming guard Jason Bohannon, who provides the Badgers depth at lead guard, something they desperately needed.


10. Texas A&M (22-9)
Acie Law and Joseph Jones return, giving the Aggies second-best 1-2 punch in the Big 12.
Billy Gillispie. He's another golden boy who doesn't seem to do wrong. Gillispie's hard-work ethic always seems to carry over to his players. He lost two assistants not because he's hard to work for but rather because the Aggies are playing so well, the assistants have been gobbled up.
Freshman Bryan Davis gives the Aggies a much-needed boost in the post.

11. UCLA (32-6)
Arron Afflalo withdrew from the draft, which means the Bruins have one of the best scoring guards in the West.
Josh Shipp is healthy. That gives the Bruins a big-time scoring wing, something they lacked last season on a consistent basis.
Sure, Ryan Hollins, Cedric Bozeman and Jordan Farmar are gone, but the Bruins have enough experience returning to make another run to the Final Four. The remaining players cannot stop praising point Darren Collison as a jet who will push the offense. The most improved player might end up being Pac-10 freshman of the year Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.


12. Duke (32-4)
Josh McRoberts decided against declaring for the NBA draft. As the top inside option, McRoberts should flourish and have one of the nation's highest shooting percentages.
Love him or hate him, Greg Paulus is a fine passer and an experienced playmaker who should shine in Year 2.
Once again, the Blue Devils hauled in a top class. It's led by Gerald Henderson, who gives the Blue Devils a high-flying wing.


13. Boston College (28-8)
Jared Dudley still is one of the toughest matchups in the country because of his ability to work the angles, find the loose balls and errant rebounds and get to the line.
Sean Williams could be the nation's preeminent shot-blocker next season. If he gets an offensive game, the Eagles will be extremely tough to beat in the post.
Tyrese Rice is a scoring point. If he finds his niche as a distributor, the Eagles will be fine running their flex offense. Al Skinner teams rarely dip, and just because Craig Smith and Louis Hinnant are gone no one should think this squad will fade next season.


14. Alabama (18-13)
Alabama brings back Ronald Steele, maybe the most valuable point guard in the country last season.
Jermareo Davidson decided to forgo the NBA and stick around for what could be an SEC title season. He's as versatile a big man as there is in the SEC.
The Tide were better than anyone thought they would be in the SEC after losing Chuck Davis, and the experience is all back to make a deeper run.


15. Connecticut (30-4)
Hasheem Thabeet. If he's as good as advertised, the Huskies might have landed one of the best center prospects in the country. Privately, the Huskies can't say enough about his impact.
The rest of the recruits give the Huskies maybe their most talented class ever. We'll have to see if they produce a Big East championship, let alone a national one, but there won't be any shortage of quickness, scoring, defense and overall toughness.
Jim Calhoun is as excited about coaching this team as any of his other squads. Don't expect this group to look glum after winning, like last season's team did. This could be North Carolina of this season.


16. Memphis (33-4)
John Calipari contends that the most talented guys didn't leave -- even though that's what it appears with the departures of top-three scorers Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams and Darius Washington. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey, Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson -- three freshmen and a sophomore (Dorsey) -- should match the scoring of the departed players.
Willie Kemp was the most important signee and is a likely stud in the backcourt with Andre Allen and Anderson.
The Tigers should win C-USA again with a gaudy record. There is also still the possibility that Washington comes back, since he plans on going through the draft and then returning to school if he doesn't get selected.


17. Georgia Tech (11-17)
Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton are two of the top players in the class of 2006. The Yellow Jackets brought in major talent on the wing and at the point.
Georgia Tech was just young last season. The core of this team is back and the players are all well-tested and hungry to prove they simply went through growing pains.
This team should be quick, aggressive and a fun watch throughout the season, and with second place on down in the ACC open, the Yellow Jackets should be a contender for a top-four finish.


18. Gonzaga (29-4)
Coach Mark Few is adamant that this squad will be a top-20 team. Why is he so believable? Because the guard play of Derek Raivio, Jeremy Pargo and Pierre Marie-Altidor-Cespedes should be as solid as any team in the West outside of UCLA and Arizona.
Josh Heytfelt, Sean Mallon and David Pendergraft might not excite you on first glance, but these three can score within the system and give the Zags the necessary balance.
This is Gonzaga. The Zags win consistently, even without a star player. Gonzaga might take a few lumps early but expect another 25-win season.


19. Washington (26-7)
Spencer Hawes, Phil Nelson, Quincy Pondexter and Adrian Oliver form one of the top classes in Washington history. It's hard to top what the recent players have done with the Huskies, but this crew comes in with oodles of talent.
Forward Jon Brockman, point Justin Dentmon and guard Ryan Appleby are back to fill the leadership void. These three were major contributors to the Huskies' surprising finish (13-5 in the Pac-10) and in the Sweet 16.
Brandon Roy is gone, but the Huskies' program continues to be about winning. Roy helped foster this culture. Coach Lorenzo Romar has this program positioned to be a contender year in and year out from this point forward.


20. Marquette (20-11)
Guards. The Eagles have the best group in the Big East in Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. Losing the shooting of Steve Novak is a hit, but this trio will make up for it because their quickness might create even more possessions in a game.
Winning. The Eagles won more than probably anyone projected last season and there is a sense that the program is on the verge of another breakthrough season.
Homecourt. Tom Crean has made it clearly known that the Golden Eagles are playing only one nonconference game away each season (not sure if that includes this year, when they have to go to Wisconsin, too). But that means the Eagles will enjoy home cookin' even more in November and December, where they're one of the toughest outs around. This team will build even more confidence by New Year's.


21. Wichita State (26-9)
Well, unless you were asleep for the month of March, you know Wichita State made it to the Sweet 16. Paul Miller, the big man in the middle and Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, was the only senior from that squad.
The backcourt of Sean Ogirri and P.J. Cousinard and the shooting of forward Kyle Wilson will make this squad tough to defend from 15-feet out.
The Shockers know all about winning at an elite level now. Nothing should faze this squad. Coach Mark Turgeon got out of the Oklahoma and Arizona State searches to stay with WSU. The commitment is in place at every level for this program to remain a Top 25 destination.


22. Creighton (20-10)
Senior guard Nate Funk received a medical hardship and can play next season after missing out from Jan. 5 on with season-ending shoulder surgery. Funk was the runner up in 2004-05 for MVC player of the year and should be a high-teens scorer out of the backcourt.
The only significant loss off of a 20-win team was senior guard Johnny Mathies. Five of the top six scorers remain.
This is the Valley and you should be accustomed to thinking that the top two MVC teams now are Top 25 worthy.


23. Villanova (28-5)
Let's talk about who is back instead of who is gone. The first name is Curtis Sumpter. He's healthy after season-ending knee surgery back in the fall. That means the Wildcats return the potential Big East player of the year. Will Sheridan, Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham give the Wildcats plenty of pop inside to go along with Sumpter. Mike Nardi is a staple in the backcourt.
The coup of the spring was when Villanova scooped up Scottie Reynolds after Oklahoma let him go. Reynolds steps in as the point guard next to Nardi and should give the Wildcats a 1-2 punch from the perimeter.
Villanova coach Jay Wright has emerged as one of the top coaches after finding his way in his first few years on the Main Line. This program should continue to be a Top 25 hot spot for the next few years.


24. Louisville (21-13)
Sure, the Cards lose Taquan Dean, the heart and soul of this squad the past three years, but the rest of the team was all underclassmen save Brandon Jenkins, who will be a senior. There is plenty of scoring, rebounding and defensive quickness for the Cards to be a Big East contender.
The arrival of another Rick Pitino recruiting haul from the New York-New Jersey area means the Cards have plenty of options. Pitino should be able to get Derrick Caracter into shape and he's got Jerry Smith, Earl Clark and Edgar Sosa for even more depth on the perimeter.
David Padgett should be back healthy after a shortened season due to injuries. And, who among you thinks Pitino will sit out two straight NCAAs? Didn't think there would be many.


25. Texas (30-7)
Talent. The Longhorns will have lots of it, albeit young. Kevin Durant might be the freshman of the year, and with the departure of P.J. Tucker, he'll get plenty of scoring chances. D.J. Augustin arrives to challenge A.J. Abrams at the point. Damion James should come in and start at small forward. There also is depth now at center with Dexter Pittman and Matt Hill, and at shooting guard with Harrison Smith and Justin Mason.
Rick Barnes. He has a way of connecting with his players with his humor and tough love. Expect this group to be close-knit and take on Barnes' personality early.
Sure, this group lacks experience. But Texas won't be alone in that category in the Big 12. Outside of Kansas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, the rest of the league is going through a reshuffling. Look, we could have made a strong case for OSU or Kansas State to be ahead of Texas for this last spot (among other teams), but the Longhorns' incoming talent simply is too good.
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Old 11-07-2006, 03:29 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bama4256
Look, we could have made a strong case for OSU or Kansas State to be ahead of Texas for this last spot
I think someone should ask ESPN if they believe they can still make the strong case for Kansas State to be ranked in the top 25 after it took triple-overtime for Bob Huggins' crew to beat a Division II team in an exhibition game in Manhattan over the weekend.
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Old 11-07-2006, 04:25 PM   #3
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I think someone should ask ESPN if they believe they can still make the strong case for Kansas State to be ranked in the top 25 after it took triple-overtime for Bob Huggins' crew to beat a Division II team in an exhibition game in Manhattan over the weekend.
Don't screwy results like that happen with a fair amount of frequency in the exhibition games? I put zero stock in preseason results.
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Old 11-07-2006, 04:28 PM   #4
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I put zero stock in preseason results.
And I put zero stock in preseason polls.

But, I think any team that trails nearly 98% of a game to a Division II school and needs to got to triple-overtime in order to win at home in an exhibition game against said school probably shouldn't be in the running for a top spot just yet.
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Old 11-07-2006, 05:38 PM   #5
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There are several "givens" in college basketball. Among them are that Duke will be good. UNC will be good. Georgetown will have at least one good big man. The MVC will be represented well. Finally, Iowa fans will whine about their team not being ranked higher than they are, even though they are not a very good team.
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Old 11-07-2006, 07:00 PM   #6
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Don't screwy results like that happen with a fair amount of frequency in the exhibition games? I put zero stock in preseason results.
I hope so. Penn State lost to DII Shippensburg last night. Claxton didn't play (hurt, out until next month) and neither did David Jackson. But still that's pretty bad.

I think Michigan State struggled with Grand Valley State a couple weeks ago.

For anyone that cares, Penn State's season opens on Friday night against Morehead State. For the first time since 2000-2001, this team has expectations placed on them. I think most PSU fans are expecting 16-20 wins, a high NIT bid or maybe sneaking into the Big Dance as a bubble team. It's a really down year for the Big Ten so anything is possible.
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Old 11-09-2006, 06:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by tobynosker View Post
It took triple-overtime for Bob Huggins' crew to beat a Division II team in an exhibition game in Manhattan over the weekend.
Quote:
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Penn State lost to DII Shippensburg last night
And now we can add Minnesota to this wing of the Hall of Shame, as they lost to D2 (albeit, D2 defending National Champs) Winona State.
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Old 11-10-2006, 09:50 AM   #8
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If they are counting Izzo and MSU out of it, he has them right where he wants them.
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